Laughter through the hallways, pens clicking on desks, teachers giving lectures, and the sounds of footsteps in the halls, all ended by something that cannot be seen by the eye. All that remained? Silence. No physical touch. Just a bleak computer screen for contact with the outside world. Loneliness and isolation took over the lives of thousands of students. Many saw school as an escape from their lives at home, but now the only thing left behind? Pain and depression. The pandemic left so many hopeless and fearful for their lives. The virus created an overbearing reality for each person who witnessed it. Student’s lost either way. It felt like no happiness came out of the quarantine.
“All the days blended together and it just seemed like some nightmare out of a movie,” junior Ashley Dunn said. “I was paranoid and I felt like I was trying to survive each day instead of living my life.”
During the lockdown, depression wrapped its hands around students. 53% of the population in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, but it only gets worse from there.
“I witnessed the hospitalization of my best-friend in a psychiatric hospital,” Dunn said. “I understand because quarantine was very hard on my mental health as well so it makes sense that more people would be hospitalized during the quarantine,” Dunn said.
As a result of the quarantine, suicide attempts increased and nearly 11 million people experienced suicidal thoughts. As standard protocol, those who attempt sucide are hospitalized in mental facilities, therefore the hospitalizations drastically spiked. Hospital beds even became so full in some areas, therefore people with disorders or unknown health problems suffered to get the help that they needed.
“My grandpa just had a life threatening surgery to remove cancer in his body the week before the quarantine was issued and all of my family were very scared and worried for him because if he got COVID he would die from it for sure,” Dunn said.
Paranoia began to feed on the fear of people worldwide. Families worried for their friends and family, and when the economy nosedived, that worry was added to as people floundered to pay bills and keep their homes.
“The quarantine made me feel empathy for the people who are economically disadvantaged because they don’t know when their next paycheck is coming in and their living arrangements are up in the air,” sophomore Becky Guzman said. “They don’t know when they are going to get food next, and they don’t even know if they can pay their medical bills or when they’re going back to work which made me appreciate what’s at my house.”
With the shutdown in place, around 22 million Americans lost their jobs. Children everywhere who relied on school for hygiene and food now live in cars or shelters. 40 million Americans total lost their homes from the quarantine. Recent polling data even shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus; and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people which is often ignored.
“I feel like there’s so many stigmas and stereotypes revolving around mental health that never stop,” junior Isabella Roske said. “I know in some cultures it’s just completely ignored, and some family members don’t even accept it.”
Stigma from mental health has existed for years and with the quarantine, many students became aware of disorders or symptoms of an illness that they ignored in the past. Still, however, people deny the illnesses they have, and perpetuate the stigma even further. Overall, the quarantine not only made the stigma for mental health worse, but it furthered the impacts of mental health on students.
“Being isolated and away from my friends and family was really really difficult for me,” Roske said. “I’m a very social person and I enjoy interaction especially with my friends and people that I have a like minded attitude with, so the inability to see them definitely took a toll on me.”
By Sophia Portillo, Staff Writer
Photo by Alyson Brownson-Welch